Friday, January 25, 2013

Cabin Fever

For me, sub-zero weather means enforced confinement. That is, it’s far too cold for outdoor activity, so I sit inside, write, play music on my pipes and feed the wood stove.

Friends tend not to drop by either, given the biting cold and also, the risk of flu. Every other person I speak with on the phone, it seems, either has or has had, the flu. So keeping away from sick people becomes a priority for me and this means days on end without the company of other humans.

Besides that, getting the flu could spell trouble for me in a big way. Living alone, I have no one to help in case of sickness. But my lifestyle is my choice and it didn’t just happen that way. We “pays our money and takes our chances,” so the old saying goes.

All this makes me wonder how the old-time trappers ever managed it. I’m not talking out west mountain man times either, but rather old-time Maine trappers. These people would take off for a month or more in the dead of winter, running their traplines and living in remote camps far away from civilization.

At least we today have radio and television, email and telephones. The old timers had nothing. But this much I know, from talking with older folks who were around during the early and mid-20th century; there wasn’t much time to sit around and get lonesome, since the trapper’s life was one of constant work. And when they weren’t preparing hides and doing camp chores, they were sleeping. It was work while the sun shone and sleep when it didn’t.

In looking over my photo collection, I came across a photo of the headstone of a Revolutionary War soldier who served during the winter at Valley Forge. Thinking about the privations and hardships those men endured makes me feel foolish about my own slight discomfort.

So when the door handle freezes on your car and you have to warm the key with a match, don’t cuss; just be glad you have a car. And even though heating fuel has become way overpriced, just be glad that you don’t have to burn half-green softwood, the way those old-time trappers did.

As far as getting lonely, email has taken up a lot of slack and single people, even those out in rural areas, can connect to the world at the pressing of a few keys.

In retrospect, things ain’t so bad after all.

1 comment:

  1. Spot on Tom, I have told folks I think I am developing a relationship with my wood stove. From my bedroom as I fall to sleep, I listen to the stove breath, each whispering inhale speaking to me letting me know just how much attention I will need to give her to sustain a chosen level of comfort. Oh, I also have a loving wife of 36 years. :-)